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tv   Beyond the Headlines  ABC  August 1, 2010 9:00am-9:30am PST

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"meg whitman says she'll run california like her company..." seen this attack on meg whitman? who are these people? they're the unions and special interests behind jerry brown. they want jerry brown because, he won't "rock the boat," in sacramento. he'll be the same as he ever was. high taxes. lost jobs. big pensions for state employees. the special interests have chosen their governor. how about you?
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welcome to "beyond the headlines." i'm cheryl jennings. every week we focus on a different topic affecting the people living and working in the bay area. today we're going to talk about a topic that is not often discussed, our women veterans and some of the difficult struggles they endure as a result of their service. for vets serving overseas, it's one thing to dream of home. but when they get here, the transition back to normal life is not always easy. some have injuries, others have posttraumatic stress disorder. a good many do not have jobs waiting for them. abc 7's wayne freedman filed this report last july on a bay area effort to help, that helped ease that transition. >> reporter: you might think of this as ading zone, landing zonh not the kind you read about in any military brochure. >> they don't talk a lot about
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injured females. >> no. >> reporter: chances are you never heard about sergeant jesse olive who carries a photo of herself in iraq before she rescued an injured soldier and then got blown 20 feet through the air by an ied. >> i was going to make army my life. i was going -- that was my career. then i got blown up. i didn't have nothing else to do. >> reporter: in concorde, jesse and other veterans attended a job fair. many of the people came home to find those promises of work replaced by sideways glances. >> they look at you as damaged goods? >> yeah. >> reporter: eric and kyle last saw each other in iraq, since returning to the states, neither has been able to hold a job. eric has had a dozen operations for a gunshot wound. both men suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. how do you get somebody to hire you when you have ptsd? >> put a collar shirt on and a tie. >> reporter: today at least, they found people who want to help, a few companies are
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looking for veterans and plenty of colleges offer educations now due to an improved g.i. bill. >> we want the experience. we want their diversity and we want to give back to them the way they've given to us. >> reporter: while some here gave more than others, all gave more than the rest of us who stayed at home. going in everyone knew fighting a war would be tough, but who would have thought that coming home would bring battles as well. >> i'll walk again. it will take a while. >> reporter: from concorde, abc 7 news. >> according to the department of veterans affairs, california has the greatest number of women veterans. here to talk about her experience, returning from military service is june moss, a retired staff sergeant. thank you for being here and thank you for your service. my dad was in the military, in the army. so i commend you for what you've done, served your country. it wasn't easy for you coming home from iraq in 2003. right? >> right. that's correct. >> what happened to you?
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what were you experiencing? >> when i came back in 2003, i didn't know what was wrong with me. i took a break and was on vacation and then in two weeks i was on vacation, i maybe got two or three days worth of sleep. i wasn't sleeping. i was having crying fits. i was staying up baking cookies, cakes. >> what was it like with your kids? >> for them, i don't think they really quite knew what to make of it. >> you had two kids? >> two kids a son and daughter. i felt that they needed care, too, because i wanted to make sure me coming back that i wasn't going to be doing something to harm them also. >> wow. >> i got care for them and for myself, family care. we need that kind of counseling. >> i want to talk about that care in just a moment. but when you tried to get help initially before you finally found where you needed to go, did they realize what was wrong with you or did they come up with a diagnosis? did they just say you're stressed out? >> the diagnosis was i was
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depressed, i was suffering from anxiety. >> they knew you were in the military in iraq? >> yes. they knew that. then also said i was suffering from ocd. and i just felt something else was bothering me. something else. it's more than just that. >> you served 12 years in the military. that's a long time to serve your country. >> yes, it is. >> and then was it a military doctor? >> it was a military doctor that diagnosed me, yes. and i just didn't understand why was my diagnosis such in -- i knew in my heart it was something more than just that. i couldn't sit with that. >> how about your dad and your husband and your kids, what did everybody say to you? >> my kids were really supportive. they would go with me when i went to groups and they were really encouraging. my husband on the other hand, at the time -- >> he was military? >> yes. he also we want to iraq. he refused to get care when we came back. so he turned to alcoholism. my dad, on the other hand, he
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was not as supportive for counseling. his answer was, take the spiritual route and just pray on it, which that's a good part, too. but i felt that i needed both. not just the spiritual aspect, but the psychological. >> how did you finally end up where you ended up and tell me about where that is. >> finally i ended up at the v.a. and i think it was by fluke. somebody else had told me, you should go to the v.a., another vet. i was like v.a.? my brother, who was vietnam vet, had said oh -- he was getting his care from palo alto v.a., so why not? if it worked for him. i started getting my care there. >> and your work with chaplain services, you're working for them? >> yeah. so i get the spiritcal side on a regular basis and my therapy at the v.a. menlo park for the mental health side. >> wow. what is your advice to women who are struggling like you who are veterans? >> my advice is just to embrace
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and get the help that you need. don't be afraid to get the help. v.a. palo alto in menlo park are doing so many things. i'm a witness of the things they've done. i'm living proof. >> june, thank you so much. appreciate it. >> thank you. >> and we do have to take a break. when we come back, we'll hear about a valuable resource for women veterans in the bay area. stay with us. @ú@ú@ú@ú t t tgx [ female announcer ] to do well, kids need to eat well. and eating well means getting enough whole grain and calcium. and general mills big g kid cereals can help. did you know it's the only leading line of kid cereals with at least 8 grams of whole grain and a good source of calcium? cereals they already love,
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welcome back to "beyond the headlines." i'm cheryl jennings. according to the veterans administration, the number of female veterans is growing rapidly. today women make up about 14% of active duty military and 18% of the national guard and reserves. this means an increasing demand for health care. veterans administration palo alto has a women's health center that is meeting the need. here with us is nurse practitioner ann thrailkill. she's the immediate past vision 21 women's veteran program manager. it's such a pleasure to speak with you after listening to june's story and how much help she got at the v.a. tell me about the center and how it helps, what it offers. >> there has been a new focus in the v.a. on comprehensive primary care for women veterans. our center is just that. not only do we provide gender specific ob-gyn care, but it's one stop shopping for the women vets. we have all aspects of care, we
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bring specialty clinics into our center. we have psychology readily available, gyn surgeon. we have physical therapy, rheumatology, just to mention a few. >> the things we don't -- a lot of us, because we don't think about female veterans, which is a sad thing, that they're out there putting their lives on the line like the men are doing, and their experiences are different. they endure some things out there in the field. what have you heard? >> well, the biggest thing, particularly this young population now, from the iraq, afghanistan combat, is that the young women, many of them with young families, so they're having to leave their families, leave their jobs. they're out there and actually in combat where many of our others weren't in combat, they're coming back with major injuries. the major one would be muscular skeletal. >> because their frames are smaller. >> they are riding the tanks.
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they're in combat. it's a wonderful movie out called the lioness showing four women in combat. >> i read some stories about women who are about terrified at everything, including being attacked by their own soldiers that they won't drink water. so they won't have to go to the bathroom. >> they're out there in the desert, it's hot. we're seeing them come back with recurrent bladder infections. gynecology infections because bathrooms aren't readily available. it isn't easy for them compared to their male companions to use the bathroom. so they're coming back with issues in that department, not to mention the subtle things, like the traumatic brain injury, that they may not have passed out or be bleeding, but just because if they happen to be at a close distance. and family reports that and it's change in personality headaches.
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>> it's really important that they take advantage of the services offered by the palo alto v.a. >> yes. >> what would your advice be to them if they're watching today? >> my advice would be if you're not signed up with the v.a., come and give us a chance. it's probably the most knowledgeable health care system for what may be bothering you, specifically our mental health issues. we know what's happened to you and we have the staff to give you the best care possible. >> ann, thank you so much and if they get a chance to meet you, they will be so fortunate. i appreciate what you're doing. we have to take a quick break. coming up, we'll hear ab v.a. program that is helping victims of sexual assault in the military. so stay with us. we'll be right back. can i eat heart healthy without giving up taste?
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welcome back to "beyond the headlines." we've been talk being women veterans and disparities in health, including ptsd and emotional and physical trauma. unfortunately, reports o assaults in the military are on the rise, in iraq and afghanistan. they have more than tripled. in the past, unfortunately victims hallel recourse. but now there is more help. abc 7's vic lee filed this report in december. >> i remember laying there trying to feel as dead as i could. the only thing that was alive was my brain, saying my brain, ,
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lord. >> reporter: army veteran diane williamson was raped by her comm commicer in 1979. >> two months after arriving there, i was there, i was raped in my barracks room by a fellow navy sailor. >> reporter: tia christopher was raped in 2000. she reported the sexual assault to her superiors. >> i was the third female sailor to report rape that week and my lieutenant commander looked at us and said, is this some kind of joke? are you playing a trick on me? are you all in cahoots together? >> reporter: williamson did not report her rape. >> i was terrified of putting it on paper and letting the military authorities know and then bring up all the mess. i really wanted to stay in the service. >> reporter: 2 1/2 decades later, she finally talked about the rape during a counseling session at swords to plowshares, the group that helps veterans. >> before that, i was homeless, wasn't able to hold a job.
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in the midst of a depression that i hadn't really understood. >> reporter: for christopher, reporting the rape was career suicide. >> i fought it and fought it and fought it. unfortunately, this ended with me receiving an early discharge with a personality disorder. >> reporter: the national institute of justice says one in five women will be sexually assaulted. the ratio in the military, according to the defense department, is one in three or four. according to a new pentagon report, sexual assaults are increasing. in fiscal year 2008, the defense department received 2908 reports of sexual assault in the military. ranging from wrongful sexual contact to rape. more than an 8% increase from the previous fiscal year. in iraq and afghanistan, there are 163 reports of sexual assaults, a 26%rease. increase. >> we take sexual assault very,
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very seriously in the department of defense and we have aggressive programs in place to prevent sexual assaults. >> reporter: dr. kay whitly heads the pentagon's sexual assault and prevention office. she says prevention programs were implemented a couple of years ago. >> we're making sure that when they enter the military, that this is part of their training just like how to wear the uniform or how to salute. >> one program is helping. the program allows a service member to confidentially report a rape without naming names. command staff and law enforcement would be kept out of the loop. whitly says more than 2600 people have come forward through the program, which began several years ago. >> so that tells me it's working. that tells me that that's over 2600 people who would have not come forward and not gotten the medical care and the counseling that they needed. >> reporter: christopher says in ut of cases, cases, only a frace
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>> out of the 2688 reports of sexual assault in the fiscal year 07, only 218 had administrative actions and discharges, the perpetrators. so, i mean, you do the math. there is only 181 corps marshalls of perpetrators in those cases. >> reporter: diane williamson lives in swords to plowshares transitional housing. after years of therapy, she's finally getting her life back together. tia christopher works at swords as women's veterans coordinator. >> i'd really like to show women who have been in my situation that there is life after that. >> reporter: christopher and ableen should be able to serve their country without fear of being sexually attacked. for now, women are more likely to be raped by a fellow service member than killed by enemy fire. vic lee, abc news. news. >> tia christopher has moved on
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from swords to plowshares now. we're going to meet her therepl. joining me right now from the v.a. in palo alto is dr. rachel kimerling, a research psychologist with the national center for ptsd and also director of monitoring for the military sexual trauma support team. we keep hearing about this. there is an actual -- we have ptsd and now we have this thing called msd. >> we love our acronyms. >> it's defined in public law, to group together sexual assault and severe and threatening sexual harassment that occurs during active military duty. together this is more than just someone saying, hey, baby, to a woman walking down the street. this is sexual assault or coercive sexual activity, sometimes called rape by rank, where someone is pressured into sexual activity. >> what wouldof an example of
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language? >> sometimes people are threatened with negative reviews or actually hazardous duty in a combat zone or it's implied they'll be relieved from hazardous duty if they engage in sexual activity. >> are they called names and put down? >> they can create a general hostile and overall threatening has mott severe to someone who is serving, by name calling, starting rumors, ongoing attempts to initiate sexual activity even when someone repeatedly said no. >> it's so wrong. you shouldn't have to fear your own fellow soldiers when you're out there fighting for your country. >> yes. >> how do you even -- how does a woman deal with that? >> as you imagine, it's very upsetting and threatening in any context, but especially when you're serving in a war zone, sometimes in the v.a. we refer to it as the double whammy. to really survive in a war zone with all of those pressures, unit cohesion is extremely
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important. feel like a soldier has your back and you can depend on people in your unit and when there is ongoing sexual harass ment or there has been an assault, it can erode that feeling and make someone feel even more in danger and more unsafe than serving in a dangerous area. >> so now you've got this mst and ptsd and how does this play together and how does thelp v.a. help them? >> well, we know from people who have served in the military and anyone that sexual assault is a traumatic event with the highest conditional risk for it it's a very potent risk factor for posttraumatic stress disorder. in recognition of how prevalent this problem is and the need for people coming back to get services, every v.a. in the country now has specialized services for military sexual
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assault. >> yours is the first in the country? >> in palo alto, we have long standing programs for women with a gender specific ptsd care. the other thing we have at palo alto and everywhere is a military sexual trauma coordinator. at every v.a. facility, to make sure that women who want to come forward and get help with these problems know where to go. so you can call any v.a. and ask for the military sexual trauma coordinator. >> you don't have to worry about going through the ranks, especially if it's your superior. >> as they mentioned, the restricted reporting where women can confidentially come forward has done a great deal for women who are in the military. once you're a veteran and seeking v.a. services, all of our care for military sexual trauma is free of charge. >> good to know. on that note, i'll have to take a break. i really appreciate your insight on all this. >> thank you. >> thank you so much. when we come back, to going to hear how ang veteran is livig
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with her ptsd and what she is now doing to help other women vets. we'll be right back.
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welcome back to "beyond the headlines." i'm cheryl jennings. joining me in the studio right now is starlyn lar a, the incoming female veteran coordinator at swords to plowshares. thank you for being here. you are also a military vet. >> that is correct. >> you know what these folks have been through, the women
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especially. >> absolutely. >> tell me, first of all, about swords to plowshares and i am familiar with it helping men, but not familiar with it helping women. >> swords to plowshares is a veterans nonprofit organization and it offers comprehensive care for a variety of services. traditionally it has structured towards the male population, however, the more female veterans are serving in armed services, are now coming back, becoming veterans and once again, like those stated earlier on the show, california has the largest percentage of female veterans. as that changes, so does our organization. >> just because the number -- 167,000 women veterans just in california alone, spread out throughout the state a significant portion of the people who served in iraq and afghanistan as well overall, when they come to the sorts of sessions, it's mostly men, right, so is that awkward for the women?
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>> i hope that it's not awkward. i hope they still create that environment of care that is gender neutral, so men and women feel comfortable. yes, we are changing things as the conflict changes and we're hoping that in the future, we'll provide more services that really make each and every female feel comfortable, regardless of what their service was, which branch they were in, and regardless of whether they do have past traumatic stress disorder. if they don't, if they have military sexual trauma, all of them to where they can get care, housing. >> i think before -- i'm wondering about how that works when we talk about the military sexual trauma, trying to open up in front of a group of men. >> there is not a group setting. there is not a counseling group setting to where you have to express all of the things that you've gone through in that
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forum. some of our long-term housing residential programs. you go through specific counselings. but it isn't in a forum where you would ever feel uncomfortable, regardless of your gender. >> you started to talk about all the variety of services, swords to plowshares offers. >> swords to plowshares is an awesome organization. it also is very, very veteran friendly. so it offers care from employment and training to our housingeilities. we've got three facilities in san francisco alone that offer from short-term care to long-term residential housing. we've got our own employment training programs that offer a variety of training for all veterans, employment services. we are very active in job fairs. >> is there a rating list for any of this? >> they're all free. >> no fee. >> no fee. >> so your advice for women out there who might be thinking, i don't know if i have this,
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should i get help. i might be in trouble. >> pick up the phone, give us a call. we've got plenty of females on staff. we've got a very large percentage of our employers that are veterans as well. so i'm a veteran. we've got many other female veterans that can help you and offer that you continued care. and it takes a phone call. >> i think that people don't understand that folks who serve in t very military are very disciplined and make great employees. >> i don't think there is any person who couldn't possibly understand that. a veteran is an absolutely fantastic part of any organization. comprehensiveamprehensive team player. team players, every single veteran is taught in the military, to be part of a team. >> thank you so much. appreciate your being here. hold on, we have to say good-bye to the folks at home. thank you for being here. that's it for this edition of "beyond the headlines." if you're looking for community resources in your neighborhood, dial 211 for help.
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information about all the people featured on today's show is on our web site. just click on the community page. i'm cheryl jennings. have a great week. bye-bye. [ kid 1 ] waa ow so of our favorite things? we love summertime fun! ...wearing our farite colors... ...and jamming to our favorite bands! ♪ but we love eating totino's the most. we live for fun... ...friends... [ both ] ...and best of all.. [ all ] ...our favorite... ...eating totino's! ♪ we're the kids in america ♪ oh, oh, oh ♪ we're the kids in...

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